The Ministry of Sorrow
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, the apostle Paul assures us of God’s comfort in times of sadness. He is the God of All Comfort. What a name! God will always be faithful to walk us through times of trial, grief, and loss. He will never leave us or forsake us. But there is a second, equally important truth here. God ministers His comfort to us so that we may become channels of His comfort to others. The comfort that you need—and that God right now provides in your present time of trial—will be needed by someone else down the road. As you receive His ministry of comfort you become a minister of comfort to others.
Here’s a Bible study idea for you. Read this passage of Scripture five times. Ponder the comforting truth from God’s Word.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
Now, go back and read the above passage again. If you have your own Bible nearby then read from there. Jot down the ways in which God is ministering to you in your present trial, as well as the lessons you are learning that equip you to minister comfort to others.
For Further Study – Use the following application project for your personal study, one-to-one discipleship relationships, and small group. It comes from biblical counselor Carol Trahan and are just a sampling of the soul-care she provides in her booklet HELP! I’m Depressed.
Read Mark 5. – This chapter introduces us to three people who experienced great sorrow because of difficult circumstances (demon possession, disease, and death).
- Which character qualities did the Lord Jesus reveal as he dealt with each individual?
- How did Jesus turn their sorrow into joy?
- In what ways could they have used their sorrow as a ministry to others (especially see vv. 19–20)?
Consider the circumstances contributing to your present state of sadness. Ask yourself how you can turn them into a ministry to others.